Thursday, May 14, 2015

InternGate Goes National

As of this morning Google has 359 articles on John Diehl’s sexting including the Washington Post, NY Magazine, Ask Men, ABC News, MSNBC, Daily Caller, and Chicago Tribune.

 

Diehl’s Statement

“I take full responsibility for my actions and am truly sorry to those I let down. I apologize for the poor judgment I displayed that put me and those closest to me in this situation. I also regret that the woman has been dragged into this situation. The buck stops here. I ask for forgiveness. I will begin immediately working to restore the trust of those closest to me, and getting back to the important work that is required in the final days of session.”

 

Democratic’s Response

"Speaker Diehl owes the House of Representatives and the people of Missouri a complete and public explanation of his actions involving a young Capitol intern. The longer the speaker refuses to honestly and openly address this situation, the more deafening his silence becomes. Empty platitudes and a vague apology for 'poor judgment' simply will not suffice.

Taking responsibility for your actions requires much more than merely saying you take responsibility for your actions. And while the speaker asks for forgiveness, he makes no mention of atonement. In order to take responsibility for his actions in a meaningful way, Representative Diehl must resign the post of House speaker without further delay."

 

Diehl Answers A Couple Questions

Ok, not really.  He actually answers zero questions.  Here’s the video from when he emerged from his office after hiding for hours and hours yesterday.

 

Lobbyist on this bungled ‘press conference’: “Seriously could they have handled this any worse? Between the taking 6 hours to issue a statement and have it not say a thing, to his smiling walking into a ‘big reveal,’ then forced contrite posture that lasted 15 seconds before going into arrogant mode after one question… Jay Nixon is laughing at them right now for their incompetence in handling a crisis.”

 

This speaker-on-the-run routine presages a speaker-in-hiding for these last two days.  Obviously he’s not showing up at the end of session press conference.  And Todd Richardson will be fielding questions about sexts, not medical malpractice reform.

 

Should Diehl Resign?

The St. Louis Business Journal has an online poll asking if Diehl should resign. (See it here.)  As of early this morning it was 3:1 saying he should resign.

 

Will McCaskill Weigh In?

US Senator Claire McCaskill has been an advocate for improving campus safety for young women.  One assumes she will be concerned by this transgression by Diehl, and question whether the internship programs in the capitol need to revamped.

KC Star’s Steve Paul hits this angle.  (See it here.)

Pull Quote:  On the day that the news broke about Missouri House Speaker John Diehl’s apparent dalliance with an intern, I sat at my desk between emails and cracked open a new book. It’s an advance reading copy of Sen. Claire McCaskill’s memoir. Titled “Plenty Ladylike,” it’s scheduled to come out in August….

“It was the first time I experienced moments of being very uncomfortable as a young woman surrounded by lots of men,” McCaskill writes. “There were inappropriate things said to me and inappropriate behaviors that made me very uneasy.”

“One day I ended up in the elevator with two older male legislators and one of their assistants. They began asking if I liked ‘to party’ and then tried to get me to come to one of their offices for some drinks. I felt trapped. For the rest of the internship, I took the stairs…”

But the timely resonance of McCaskill’s story is a powerful reminder that perhaps nothing ever changes in the halls of power. Especially in Jefferson City. The boy’s club still needs to clean up its act.

 

Three Questions Republicans Are Asking

There are three big questions among Republicans now…

First, and biggest: do we have another Todd Akin on our hands?  Will InternGate be a potentially lingering symbol that will repel women from voting Republican?  2016 is still far away, but if Diehl sticks around and there’s more (see Question #2), he could be a drag on the ticket even if he’s not running.

Second, is there more?  Reporters are smelling blood and there seems to be an intensification to hunt down other rumors they’d have let lie just 24 hours ago.  They now feel, it seems, that if there have been additional situations it would confirm a pattern of behavior.

Third, does the circle of guilt widen?  Were there folks who knew about the improper relationship, but didn’t confront Diehl, or do anything to protect the intern?

 

The Three Answers

First, maybe.  We don’t know how it will play out.  One Republican suggested to me that Democrats have had enough ethical lapses to even the scales.

Second, yes there is more.  At least more text messages, but maybe even more more.  This is the danger.

Third, hard to say.  Reporters are now in hyper mode, and with the legislative chain essentially at a standstill, they have plenty of time to ask questions and file FOIA requests.

 

The Sexting Speaker: The Highlights

“Once I start I don’t stop”

“God I want you now”

“We need a lot of time and s quiet room”

“Will have my way with you”

“And leave you quivering”

“You will be in good hands J”

“Laying in bed looking at your pic J”

 

House Republicans Caucus

From multiple sources… Diehl apologized.  Rep. Jay Barnes made a motion to remove him as speaker.  The motion was seconded by Rep. Mike Moon.  There was disorganized discussion during which Diehl was defended by several committee chairs.  Eventually Leader Todd Richardson suggested that “everyone sleep on it.”  There was no resolution.

 

The Creep Factor

One female lobbyist rolled her eyes at the whole sexting scenario… Why is the 49 year old speaker of the House even texting with a 19 year old intern to begin with? Did he ask for her cellphone number? What was his excuse for asking for it?  What was that conversation like?

 

Finally

An ode to the Daily Paper…  This story has been around for a few weeks.

I’ve hinted at it from time to time.  And I even plucked out what I knew one morning.  But I didn’t hit send.  I deleted it, and then second-guessed myself all day.

In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t hit send.  MOScout is just me.  And while I always write the truth to the best of my knowledge, the truth is… I’m better at bits.

A story this big is really the domain of a daily newspaper – an institution with editors who make sure they get the story.

Diehl’s team worked for weeks to keep the story from happening.  They could have held off a pesky blogger.  But Jason Hancock, backed by his paper, worked through it.

All around the globe there are so many places where leaders are untouchable. They don’t have to answer questions.  No one pokes through the cover-ups.

The daily paper – as a manifestation of a free press and the 1st Amendment – is a beautiful thing.

 

Lobbyists Registrations

Madison McMillian deleted The Associated Students of The University Of Missouri.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Missourians for John Brunner - $25,000 from Roger Miller.

Missourians for John Brunner - $10,000 from Roaslie OReilly Wooten.

Cooksey for STL City School Board - $18,571 from Leadership for Educational Equity.